Tibidabo is the mountain to the north of Mountjuic, and though neither is really a mountain so much as enormous bluffs, they are quite imposing and the best places in the city to visit for fine views and clean air.
Tibidabo is not as developed as Montjuic, but it has the same clear air and beautiful overlooks. From here, you can see the mountains of Majorca, 130 miles away, or the entire city of Barcelona and the sea. It’s an excellent day trip, especially if you have a family. The main attraction of Tibidabo is the amusement park of the same name located on the mountainside.
What to do at Tibidabo
Tibidabo has been one of Barcelona’s favorite retreats for well over a century. In 1868, a road connecting it to the city was built, and a wealthy pill manufacturer named Dr. Andreu created the Sociedad Anonima de Tibidabo, promoting the slopes of the mountain as a public garden.
His society installed the blue tram and the funicular that get you to the peak, and some of the attractions in the Parc d’Atraccions date all the way to his time.
At the Parc d’Atraccions, tradition and the modern world blend smoothly. Rides from the turn of the 20th century sit next to modern thrill rides like the Dragon Khan.
During summer, the atmosphere turns to carnivals and nostalgia, hailing back to the time of Dr. Andreu. L’Avio, a replica of the first plane flying the Barcelona-Madrid route, for instance, is a fun ride in which you’re suspended over the summit of Tibidabo. Another attraction is a museum filled with period automatons.
Whether you want to get a taste of what carnivals were like a hundred years ago or be scared out of your wits by swinging out over the mountain in many of the rides, you’ll find something here perfect for you.
Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor
Next to the Parc d’Atraccions is the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor, a peculiar-looking church dating from 1902 that you can see from almost anywhere in the city.
If you like to learn while you’re having fun, consider visiting the CosmoCaixa while you’re at Tibidabo. This is a science museum funded by La Caixa, and has just come through a major 6-year renovation and overhaul. As a result, it’s probably the best and most high-tech science museum in Europe, and without a doubt the most hands-on.
Its exhibition space is very near 40,000 square feet thanks to an underground extension, and the newest area added is the bioresearch center. The permanent collection takes you on a tour through four areas, “Inert Material” (everything through the first signs of life), “Living Material” (life through mankind), and “Civilized Materials” make up the first three.
The fourth is the most popular attraction, “The Flooded Forest,” a live Amazonian reain forest inside the museum complete with plants and animals. Children can even touch some of the creatures. Also inside the museum you’ll find an extraordinary 3-D planetarium. It’s an ideal place to visit if you’re traveling as a family.
Where to stay at Tibidabo
Gran Hotel La Florida
There’s only one place to consider staying near Tibidabo, and that’s the Gran Hotel La Florida. It’s pricey, but it’s also widely recognized as Barcelona’s finest hotel.
In the 1920s, it was the chosen hotel when the glittering people like movie stars and royalty visited, partly because of its location at the top of Tibidabo Mountain. During World War II, it was transformed into a hospital, and not until 2003 did it begin welcoming guests again.
Today, its art collection rivals that of many excellent art galleries, and you’ll find luxury upon luxury awaiting you. Rose petal water is offered to guests upon arrival, and then you’re shown to your beautiful room and its maginificent view, marble bath, and calming atmosphere.
You’ll also find L’Orangerie, the hotel’s world-class restaurant; a spa and infinity pool; terraced gardens; and the best service in Europe. A solarium, a Turkish bath, private nightclub, health club, and babysitting ensure that all your needs are met in this world-class hotel.
The night life
On Tibidabo, it’s all about the view. And the Mirablau, though it’s a little tacky, a little loud, offers the most incredible view of any nightclub in Barcelona. It’s right next to the funicular at the top of the mountain, and features a huge window that overlooks the city and the sea. And though it’s nice to sit here during the day and drink coffee, the vision of the city at night is not to be missed.